The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May finalized their proposed Clean Water Rule to protect the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources from pollution and degradation.
The EPA and Army Corps did as promised, they considered more than one million comments they received on the rule, they addressed concerns, and they refined and ultimately improved the rule. At the Center for Rural Affairs we are encouraged by the refinements and clarifications undertaken in this process, and encouraged to see better Clean Water Act enforcement poised to move forward.
Water is life — for people, crops, livestock, and wildlife as well as farms, ranches, business and industry. The revised rule is grounded in both law and science. Nearly one in three Americans get drinking water from streams that lacked clear protection before the Clean Water Rule. And healthy ecosystems provide more than drinking water, they provided wildlife habitat and places for fishing, swimming and paddling. Clean water is an economic driver for manufacturing, farming, ranching, tourism, recreation, and energy production.
Perhaps most importantly, this rule was shaped, and improved, by public input, which will allow the rule to clear the regulatory waters, overcome the shrill hyperbole from organizations more interested in shilling for industry and industrial agriculture than in clean water, and protect the quality of America’s surface waters.
John Crabtree is media director for the Center for Rural Affairs.